Evangelical Christian author Joel Rosenberg has convened faith leaders to meet with top Middle Eastern governmental officials for what became critical conversations about faith and peace in the region. Rosenberg will reveal exclusive insights from conversations with these leaders in his new, 400-page book, Enemies and Allies: An Unforgettable Journey Inside The Fast-Moving & Immensely Turbulent Modern Middle East, which will be available on Tuesday.
The book is published by Tyndale. It is Rosenberg’s first nonfiction work in nearly a decade. The Jerusalem resident, who has a Jewish father but is a practicing Christian, is a New York Times bestselling author of 15 novels and five nonfiction books.
“What happens in the Middle East – for better or worse – affects the entire world,” Rosenberg said. “I will take you inside royal courts and capitals and introduce you to the most powerful figures in the region. Love them or hate them, these are the players driving the change. These are the leaders to keep an eye on.”
Among those leaders who Rosenberg quotes in the book are Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former US president Donald Trump, former US vice president Mike Pence, former US secretary of state and CIA director Mike Pompeo and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rosenberg was invited to meet with these leaders, he told The Jerusalem Post, “as an evangelical who loves Israel.” He said he used the conversations, which usually included other top evangelical influencers, to discuss some of the most sensitive and challenging issues of faith and peace.
For instance, in October 2018, Rosenberg sat down in the Abu Dhabi palace of the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
“I said to him, ‘Christians have been praying for the peace of Jerusalem because we are commanded to do so by the Bible. And yet, we are looking to see who the next Arab leader will be to make peace with Israel,’” Rosenberg recalled.
It had been almost a quarter of a century since the previous peace agreement, he said, and he wanted to make clear the evangelicals’ desire for peace.
“We were not sure what the answer was going to be,” he told the Post. “But the crown prince leaned forward and said, ‘Joel, I am ready to make peace. I am going to do it.’”
The prince shared that he had made this strategic calculation, according to Rosenberg, and that he was simply looking “for a roadmap” and “the right moment.”
“The conversation at the time was off the record, so we could not come out of the palace and tell everyone this huge headline, that a major breakthrough is coming,” he said. “That was two years before the Abraham Accords were announced. But we tracked the story and stayed close to the crown prince and his team for the next few years.”
While Rosenberg said that Christians would not claim to take credit for the accords, he believes “in the power of prayer. King David commanded us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and I believe Christians have had a powerful and positive influence on the region because of prayer.”
Moreover, he said, Christians were “given a front row seat for history in the making, which I believe is part of a tectonic change in Arab-Muslim thinking in which they have concluded that their enemy is not Jews or Christians, but radical Islamists.”
Israel “realizes that it is not just the Jewish community that stands with Israel, but really the backbone of political support in the US for Israel comes from the 60 million evangelical Christians who at times have much more passion and unconditional love for Israel than some segments of the American Jewish community.
“Israel’s deep strategic alliance with America is not just with Washington. Israel has deep roots of connection with the American people and that is based on the Christian community in the United States.”
Rosenberg said that the Arab world has woken up to this strategy, too, and is now realizing that it needs such ties. Arab-Muslim leaders have decided that Christian communities in the US and around the world believe in peace, he said.
“We love Israel, but we also want Israel to be safe and prosperous,” Rosenberg told the Post. “The Arab world does not have anything to fear from the Christian world.”
ROSENBERG FIRST got connected with these Arab leaders when he was invited in 2016 to meet with the king of Jordan after he included him as a character in one of his novels.
“One of his advisers read it and gave it to him and rather than banning me from Jordan, he invited my wife and me to come visit him and his senior advisers,” Rosenberg recalled.
At the end of that visit, the king invited Rosenberg to a private dinner at his palace and gave him two-and-a-half hours of his time, through which the author gained insight into the worldview of King Abdullah who he describes as a “moderate Muslim monarch.”
He asked the king if he was open to meeting with other American evangelicals. The king said yes, and the next visit was arranged.
“That set in motion what turned into six different delegations of evangelical leaders,” Rosenberg said. “Nothing like this had ever happened in the region before.
“I was invited as an author and an evangelical,” he continued. “But it turned into a story so interesting that I decided it was a story that needed to be told.”
The author has a lot to say about what is happening in the White House under President Joe Biden and since Trump left office. He accused Biden of “surrendering in Afghanistan” and “signaling that he does not really want to deal with the Middle East.”
He said that he expects these moves to drive additional Arab leaders to move toward Israel as they “fundamentally re-assess who are our allies and who are our enemies.
“Most Arab leaders for the last hundred years have said Israelis, Jews, these are our enemies,’ he explained. “Now they are realizing, no, the Iranian regime is our most severe and existential threat and Israel is prosperous, strong and willing to take on Iran if they have to.”
The book also tells the inside story of how MBZ and his team negotiated with Trump and Netanyahu to convince Netanyahu to abandon annexation for peace with the UAE instead, a story that has been hinted at but until now never fully told.
“The change underway in the Middle East and North Africa is coming fast and furious – and it is far from over,” Rosenberg said. “My hope is that when readers have finished this book, they will have a better appreciation for how their futures and fortunes are uniquely and inextricably connected to the people in the epicenter.”